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Grocery Store Shenanigans

My father-in-law sent me this over the weekend (below):

Over the past few months my wife has asked that I accompany her on her trips to Target. Unfortunately, like most men, I found shopping boring and preferred to get in and get out. Equally unfortunate, my wife is like most women - she loves to browse. Yesterday my dear wife received the following letter from the local Target store.

Dear Jackie,

Over the past six months, your husband has caused quite a commotion in our store. We cannot tolerate this behavior and are now forced to ban both of you from our store. The complaints against your husband are listed below and are documented by our video surveillance cameras.

  1. June 15: Took 24 boxes of condoms and randomly put them in other people's carts when they weren't looking.
  2. July 2: Set all the alarm clocks in House wares to go off at 5-minute intervals.
  3. July 7: He made a trail of tomato juice on the floor leading to the women's restroom.
  4. July 19: Walked up to an employee and told her in an official voice, 'Code 3 in House wares. Get on it right away! This caused the employee to leave her assigned station and receive a reprimand from her Supervisor that in turn resulted with a union grievance, causing management to lose time and costing the company money.
  5. August 4: Went to the Service Desk and tried to put a bag of M&Ms on layaway.
  6. August 14: Moved a 'CAUTION - WET FLOOR' sign to a carpeted area.
  7. August 15: Set up a tent in the camping department and told the children shoppers he'd invite them in if they would bring pillows and blankets from the bedding department to which twenty children obliged.
  8. August 18: When a clerk asked if they could help him he began crying and screamed, 'Why can't you people just leave me alone?' EMTs were called...
  9. August 22: Looked right into the security camera and used it as a mirror while he picked his nose.
  10. August 27: While handling guns in the hunting department, he asked the clerk where the antidepressants were.
  11. August 30: Darted around the store suspiciously while loudly humming the 'Mission Impossible' theme.
  12. September 1: In the auto department, he practiced his 'Madonna look' by using different sizes of funnels.
  13. September 4: Hid in a clothing rack and when people browsed through, yelled 'PICK ME! PICK ME!'
  14. September 7: When an announcement came over the loud speaker, he assumed a fetal position and screamed 'OH NO! IT'S THOSE VOICES AGAIN!'
  15. And last, but not least:

  16. September 8: Went into a fitting room, shut the door, waited awhile then yelled very loudly, 'Hey! There's no toilet paper in here.' One of our clerks passed out.

With the deepest empathy,

Yours truly,
Courtney Spradley, Customer Services

Phoenix, AZ

It reminds me of a few shopping experiences. My cousin Jeff Gusciora/Thiessen and I used to go to Toys R Us in Bloomington, MN and play with toys. Playing "Blind Nerf Football" over the isles of toys is a lot of fun. It takes a while before management figures out exactly where those flying Nerf balls are coming from. However, when they do find out it is you, they probably will ask you to leave.

After I moved to Arizona I learned a couple things about grocery shopping. First, shopping late at night is better because it's way cooler than it is in the daytime. Second, it's amazing how awful customer service can get with a giant grocery chain. My roommate and I would shop near midnight frequently - there were less people in the stores, and the weather was much cooler, especially in the summer. There are only a handful of giant chains with equally low standards to choose from. Most of the grocery stores are unionized also. The idea of paying grocery checkers $27 an hour with a giant benefits package easily tells me why the cost of living is skyrocketing in certain areas. Somehow the unions, who are paid by the workers to represent them, allowed the chains to put in those self check-out scanner machines. (won't one of those deals with 4 scanners take away up to 12 jobs if you consider 3 shifts?)

Well the grocery chains have this policy that patrons must wait at least 20 minutes in line to check out. If the lines get shorter then 20 minutes they take another checker out and send them on break or home for the night. My roommate, Lee Runyon, and I waited close to 20 minutes in the only manned checkout lane when the Smith's we were buying groceries at decided to close the last lane! WTF - they were going to force us to use the self checking scanner setup.

I worked it for a while, then just got tired of the scanner not working well, and the attendant not helping us AT ALL. I ended up throwing all my groceries at the scanner. Some of them stayed on the scanner, and many of them rolled off onto the floor. I can only imagine how many eggs survived. I created quit a commotion and a mess. The attendant told me,

"You can't do that."

She actually used those words. I had to explained to her that not only could I do that - I just did it! Off to another store to buy groceries that night.

It takes a lot to get Lee upset, but they managed. We returned to Smith's (Smith's was bought out by Fry's - a subsidiary of Kroger, and even larger and more impersonable chain) sometime later. We wanted to have some fun with the crappy chain that makes us wait and tried to make me use the self checkout scanner, so we made a game of it.

The game works like this: We each take a cart and fill it with as many items as possible. We'd meet up later, at a designated time and section of the store to compare who's cart would take the longest for the store's employees to put back in their proper place. That meant getting one-off items like hand sliced deli meat, cosmetics, office supplies as well as groceries from all over the store. The smaller the items the more things you can fit in a cart. But, some things don't fare well at room tempuratures after they have been sitting for a while. Fill the cart, compare the contents, then just abandon the whole cart.

We did this a few times until we thought we should take the game all the way to check out and bagging. We filled the carts with as much crap as possible, then waited in line. We raced to see who could get every item scanned and bagged. When the bill was totaled, we'd say,

"Oops, I forgot my checkbook, can you hold this stuff for 20 minutes while I go home and get it. I'll be right back, I promise."

That game had run its course, and we needed something new. It was cheap entertainment, especially when it was too hot or too late to do anything else. And it was free... for us...

The new game was to see who could hide food that would take a long time to find. Bonus points for things that became especially foul or messy. I started with ice cream on an upper shelf with the lid partially off. Lee outdid me with me with fresh fish partially wrapped and stuck between two isles blocked from sight by an end-cap display. I think we hid bread, pork, orange juice, bananas just to name a few items. Additional points were awarded when going back on subsequent trips to find our hidden items still there fermenting or rotting.

The only problem with the new game was we weren't there when the mayhem was discovered. We modified the game to making a mess that would get paged over the loudspeaker for cleanup. Heck, you can drop a jar of spaghetti sauce and tell the isle clerk and he'll page it out without blinking. Again we had to step up our game. A supersized gallon of cooking oil tipped back towards the isle to run down the shelves and everything on them might not get discovered quickly, but they'll be cleaning for a long time. Breaking a 2 liter bottle of root beer is fun, because it can spray everywhere and get on everything if shaken up even a little, and it leaves a terrible sticky mess. Pouring a box of cereal or pasta into the candy by the pound display contraption had to be a total bummer for the store, do you throw the candy out or not?

I think we even had a few guest players, and we did encouraged others to play. The overhead paging was the reward we desired, but the poor schmucks working the isles didn't know why everything was happening. By the time we got bored with our game, we were leaving notes for the management, just so they knew exactly why we slected them for mayhem. We made sure they knew everything done over the past few months. We demanded shorter wait lines, new items to stock, and more revealing outfits for the cuter check-out girls.

It was addictive, like a drug, screwing with a store that wronged us in the slightest, but we had to stop or risk capture, prosecution, and letal injection. How long is the statute of limitation on Grocery Store Shenanigans?

I'm married and I have a child, so I should refrain from these things today, but you can give them a try. I'm not encouraging grocery store shenanigans, but if you do - or if you have any other shenanigans - Inform me! If you have any other good ideas to try at a major retailer, shoot me an E-mail!

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